Chairman’s Report - 6th July 2011
Hello & welcome to the 4th AGM of the Exeter City Disabled Supporters Association and this is my Chairman’s report.
Last season we had a grand total of 56 paid up members. Membership has been steadily growing and our next aim must be to get to that magic 100 mark and ensure we keep our members happy with what we are all trying to do.
As most people know, as a volunteer, I’ve also held the title of Disability Liaison Officer at Exeter City. Sadly, due to personal reasons I’ve now stood down from this position. When I first started representing disabled supporters, the club treated disabled supporters poorly as I was a victim of this back in 2002. This prompted me to join the supporters club and becoming disabled supporter’s representative. I must say, the club has come a very long way in how disabled supporters are treated and the facilities that are provided and I’m hopeful that this will continue.
Jon Underhill (ECFC Stadium Manager) will be taking over from myself and he will be the first point of contact for all disabled supporters if they have any problems. If disabled supporters have still got a problem after contacting the club, they can come to us and we’ll deal with any problems with the utmost urgency.
The following is what we’ve been up to in the past season:
July 2010: - ECFC Disabled & Assistant Information: For the past 3 seasons we’ve been sending this information to all the clubs that Exeter City would be playing in the league so that visiting disabled supporters had a good idea of what disabled facilities are provided by the football club.
We’ve always sent this information out via 2nd class post but to save money we sent this information out via email to all Disability Liaison Officers or Disabled Supporters Associations.
August 2010: - Adam Stansfield: It was with great sadness to hear of the passing of City’s number 9 shortly into the new football season. He is missed greatly by his family; friends and everyone associated with Exeter City Football Club. We gave a small donation to both the Family Fund and the Adam Stansfield Foundation, both set up after the passing of Adam. A condolence card was sent to Adam’s family from all of us here at ECDSA.
Stadium tour: Committee members were took on a tour of St James Park under the guidance of Stadium Manager Jon Underhill, during which we were brought up to speed with all the changes and work that had been carried out in the close season. Jon has given me an open invitation to all ECDSA members to attend a future Stadium Tour.
Football supporters from Germany: After our tour we met two football supporters from Germany. Ralf and Detlev are supporters of their local team, Westfalia Rhynern. An Exeter City pennant was presented to them on behalf of ECDSA to take back to their club in Germany by Colin & Steve. They appeared to be very impressed with our facilities and were overwhelmed by all the tributes to Adam Stansfield which were on display at the time of their visit. They had nothing but praise for the supporters and the tributes they had left.
This was picked up and reported on by a Scottish Disability Football Organisation called CAFÉ (Centre for Access to Football in Europe).
September 10: - ECDSA President: For the 4th season running Bertie Cozic was our President, sadly Bertie has now left the club and we are hopeful of appointing another President for the forthcoming season.
A big thank you goes to Bertie for his help and support over the years and we wish him all the best for the future.
Website & email address: I was able to setup our very own website and email address, the website was free to setup and does not cost us anything to run. We’re using Google Sites as our website provider.
To date we’ve had over 1000 hits with a 66% return rate. We expected to receive hits from the UK but we’ve had hits from 21 other counties including E.T. (1 country has not been set by Google or maybe it was E.T).
Our website has information on everything we do and information on what facilities the football club has on offer to all disabled supporters and other sections on how disabled people can get into playing football themselves plus web links to other disability and city related sites. We have a web link on 90% of city related websites.
October 10: - Wheelchair for Hire: We brought a manual wheelchair for the club. The chair is available for hire on match days from Club Reception. This chair can be used by anyone who has a short term disability and are in need of a wheelchair. There is no charge but we do welcome any donation.
Sponsorship: As Bertie was our President we sponsored his Training Kit. We now have a signed training shirt from Bertie, as part of our sponsorship package with the club.
Local TUC meeting: On our behalf, I attended a local TUC meeting and gave a small talk about what our association does. It was good to fly the flag on our behalf and spread the word of what we are trying to do.
December 10: - Christmas draw: We made a profit of just over £***.** from our draw, this was down from last years total but this was due to other fundraising causes running around the same time, which was understandable. Thank you, Colin & Margaret for sorting out the draw and for your hard work. Thanks also go to ecfcgirl and Northant Grecian from football forum Exeweb for selling tickets on our behalf and to Roger Conway (ECFC Director - Company Secretary) for stepping in and performing the draw on the committee’s behalf.
January 2011: - Button Badges: We finally have our own badge. We had 250 badges made and the great news is that with Colin’s hard work, sold some of the badges and made a profit of £**.** A badge was sent out to all our members. We do have a very small number of badges left that will cover any new members for this season. We hope to have new badges made for the start of the 2012/13 season.
February 11: - Bucket Collection: The Supporters Trust on behalf of the football club again kindly offered us a bucket collection for the Southampton match and we raised just over £***.** Thanks go to all our members who kindly helped with the collection. With some of the money raised we are having a Radar Key system installed to the disabled toilet door within the stadium, as this will benefit disabled supporters who find it hard to open or close doors. If this works out, we are thinking of getting the system installed to the disabled toilet within ‘The Park’ building downstairs as there is a problem with non-disabled people using the toilet, which is unacceptable. ‘It’s a disabled toilet for a reason’.
Extra Lighting for back of Old Grandstand: We paid for an extra floodlight to be fitted above the staircase to the back of the Old Grandstand, as the lighting was very poor to one section of the stairs. We’ve been told that the extra light does help light up the area better for the visually impaired and other supporters and it has made a massive difference.
March 11: Recognised supporters group: We are now published by the football club as a recognised supporters group like other groups for when the club sell tickets via the clubs Priority System. All our members were on the clubs priority database but our association was not included in any published information by the club as a recognised supporters group. Thanks to Frances Farley, we are now treated the same as other supporters groups.
One Game, One Community: In November Martin Weiler from One game, one community (Kick it Out) campaign attended one of our meetings. Disability is now included within their campaign and to follow this further I attended a meeting on our behalf. We have offered them our help with any disability wise issues and we have welcomed the chance to work together in the future.
April - May 2011: - Disabled areas 6 & 7 in Big Bank Stand: We asked for markings to be put down in front of these areas and the good news is that the markings are now down. We hope this gives the stewards the help and support needed when asking supporters to move away from in front of these areas and areas are kept clear towards the end of matches so that supporters in these areas have a clear view of the pitch until the final whistle. Jon Underhill was thanked for getting this done.
Most Improved Player of the Year: For the 2nd year running our members voted for the winner.
The award went to a player who has stood out from others and his work rate for his team mates and for Exeter City is what you would expect from any player and how can we forget about his winning goal verses Argyle, we’ve been waiting 9 years for that. The winner of our ‘Most Improved Player of the Year’ for 2010/11 went too James Dunne and we all wish him well for this coming season.
Committee members Colin & Margaret Atkins and Jeanne & David Jones presented the award to James at the football clubs end of season dinner.
Our award was kindly sponsored by committee member Steve Gazzard for the 3rd year running, thanks Steve.
As you can tell we had another busy season.
One of my roles as DLO at the club was dealing with disabled parking and the setup of a waiting list to ensure all spaces were used on match days. Good news is that I’ve been able to bring this under the wing of ourselves for the coming season. There are only 6 disabled parking spaces here at Exeter City for home & away supporters and we can carry on ensuring that every space is used by disabled supporters only on match days.
Outline plans for the redevelopment of St James Park has been published by the football club and we need to ensure that we are the driving force in ensuring that the club provides new and improved disabled facilities for all disabled supporters in the new parts of the redevelopments. This includes providing wheelchair space prevision in the away end of the ground. ‘We all like to be with our fellow supporters when supporting our team, being put in with opposition supporters can be very intimidating for some people’.
I would like to stay on as your Chairman and if re-appointed I will ensure that we continue to help and support Exeter City Football Club in any way possible by adding or improving the disabled facilities and that all disabled supporters and their personal assistants are treated fairly, as you would expect.
Finally, I would like to thank our committee members for their time and hard work for the benefit of our membership and Exeter City over the past season, our members for their continued support and to Exeter City Football Club for allowing us to use their facilities for free for our meetings and to all of you for attending this years AGM.
Thanks again for coming along this evening and thank you for listening!
Nick Saunders, ECDSA Chairman